The Deception Detector

Sometimes I talk to nice young men and women about what they're looking for in a partner and the idea of honesty pops up as a good thing.

But no one seems to know how to go about finding out if the person that they're dating or going to date is honest or not. And these days, if you meet online, you're at a real disadvantage. The picture, to begin with, is almost always a lie.

But maybe that's not fair. An old picture isn't such a big lie. That's not the kind of deception I'm talking about here.

Years ago I wanted to write this book, The Deception Detector. I think there is a book on the subject at Borders now if you want to take a look, but I haven't read it, so I can't recommend it. In fact, there's a book about every conceivable psychological/relational topic, and if there isn't, and you write it, it'll get published.

So here's what you have to do to find out if a person has a predisposition to deception.

Let's just use him, for the sake of convenience. We could have said, her.

You go out to dinner. You really have to be able to see him. You sit across from him You playfully ask, So when you were a kid, can you remember the first time you lied to your parents? Or the first time you did anything you weren't supposed to do?

He'll probably tell you. People love to talk about themselves, and when they're talking about what they did as children, they assume you know they're different, now. So no matter what he says, you act like that's fine, after all, kids do lie to parents to differentiate, and to teachers to survive. And you indicate that. That it's all right.

After all, it's not necessarily a sign that this is how a person will behave as an adult. Personality is determined by the resolution of the deception. Deception is really passive conflict. It's not the act so much, as how it's resolved.

Then you ask him, So tell me more! When was the next time?

And you're fascinated, of course. It is interesting, isn't it? This is the job, by the way, of dating, getting to know someone, finding what's interesting about him or her.

So you keep asking and get all the stories. And while you're getting the stories, find out how each act was resolved. Did parents find out? Did teachers find out? Did each lie lead to another or was there a time when everyone talked about it and the liar thought to himself, This is silly! Why am I doing this? I'm lying to myself, too!

When that happens, when we look at ourselves and think, I could hold my own in a truthful argument, we start telling the truth. We risk looking bad.

It's a lack of confidence and the certainty that we'll lose something that makes us lie. And of course, fear of exposure and maybe abuse. Lying is the opposite of intimate, so it works nicely if you want to screw up your relationships.

Or did he learn, This is smart. I get farther in life this way. This totally works.

You have to find out. If that moment of truth never happened? It won't with you, either.



Anonymous said…
I often wonder "what isnt a lie ?" I mean , not only do internet pictures distort the truth of what a person looks like , but what a person looks like in person is most likely a distortion of what they really look like . Some lipstick applied here , a little blush on the cheeks , shave all that unsightly hair off that primitive you , tweeze those brows , tighten that bra , color that hair , put a sparkle in that lobe , and god forbid , a ring in the
nose . Darken those lashes , change the color of your eyes, paint those nails , how bout a little nip n tuck ? some liposuction ? botox? A pharmachological smile ?
I wonder if future generations will see this human era as the age of the' perfecting of deception' as an evolutionary tool?
therapydoc said…
Now there's an interesting thought!
Anonymous said…
well, I'm not saying these things(deceptions ) are bad . My lack of a love-life surely implies that I could use a bit of 'touching up' myself . I'm thinking steroids or maybe going in debt for a ferrari might be more 'gender correct 'though .Maybe deception is good "it"s just a tool for fixing lonliness'? Maybe not being a good liar is my real problem ?
Can you recommend any books on "how to use deception to find love ?
therapydoc said…
I never know where these things will go.

Lemme think on it. Something tells me there will be other thoughts on the subject, too.
Anonymous said…
I loved your post...and would love to use it on my you credit of course. Let me know.. Also...can we link to each other???
Claudia SAHM said…
Loved your post!!May I use it on my blog and obviously..give you the kudos??? PS Can we link to each other??
Claudia SAHM said…
Awesome post! May I use it on my site and may we link to each other? I'm not jewish but when I read you stuff, I feel like I am!
therapydoc said…
Sure. Go ahead. I only throw in the Jewish stuff for ethnic color, which I love. Welcome to the tribe.
Anonymous said…
i am not jewish either, but therapyDoc makes my day...she goes good with my coffee and cereal or lunchtime or in the evening.
therapydoc said…
And you know, you don't have to be Jewish to need therapy.
therapydoc said…
Do I have the nicest readers, or what?
SeaSpray said…
Wow...great post! I am going to try that just for the heck of it with people I already know. Just to see how my conclusions match up with what I already know. Very interesting.

Thank god for the illusion of make up!

I don't recall where, but somewhere in the old testament there is a reference for how a bride to be prepared a year ahead for her wedding. Maybe it was the brides of royalty...again i don't recall. But she took that time to soften her skin, take care of her hair, etc., so she could present herself beautifully to her groom. I heard someone talk about this and is why I don't know the reference for it.

Cleopatra was said to be beautiful.

I think it is part of our human condition to do what we think will enhance our appearance and therefore our success at survival.

I also think it is instinctual to go after the person who looks the most attractive, i.e., healthy because they are the ones perceived as the best choice for continuing the race. Subconciously. Obviously there is the lust and moments in the present but i think there must still be an underlying drive for survival.

Forgive me if I am way off base. We are higher than the animals and yet look how they are designed (bright colors in the males, etc.)or their behaviors to attract a mate. So for us humans... we too, depending upon culture strive to do the same.
therapydoc said…
One day we should focus a little on this, the real animals, how they don't have to do a lot of thinking, and since we can, we probably should.
SeaSpray said…
Point well taken.

We have that capacity for a reason.
Anonymous said…
Do we go for the most healthy looking mates ? I dunno . I think women usually do, for the short term , anyway. They
instinctively want that man with that 'excessive physical strength' gene , as a protector , but mostly as a sexual trophy and sperm donor , of course fearless courage
'stupidity' is desirable too cuz ya want a guy who will do anything ya ask no matter how dangerous it is to him . But those guys arent usually the best long term choice if you want intelligence or youre a conversationalist or if you want your man to not stray or develope those ugly beer bellys. But , Sam Colt didnt just make all men equal to all men , he made all women equal to all men , so the protection factor isnt what it used to be . This overbreeding of the attractive females with the Mesomorph males must stop ... It's doing irrepairable damage to the intellectual gene-pool ... If your a man looking for a female , it seems to me that the first choice is usually the skinniest woman , just look at the supermodels . I think this comes from that primitive practice of the males physically dominating the females . The weaker they are physically , the easier that task is . And , the younger , less experienced they are , the more likely that you can trick them into believing that you are not completely full of BS .And also , if you kept them in your harem , they would eat less than the larger females ? Personally , I think smart women are sexy . Thats a problem for me cuz smart women all seem to know that they are too good for me ! If I only had a ferrari , then they would luv
me ?
Anonymous said…
Hi Therapy Doc

My ex was a constant - well not liar as such though he did that - 'denyer' would be a better word...if I discovered or pointed out some truth he would deny it and if he falt 'caught out' would make and excuse for it. Either way he was lying to himself. I thought I could spot a liar... or at least another like this. What I am wondering from your pearls of wisdom is about a guy - over 50 - who says at least once - probably more times - when we run into each other and discuss relationships 'I don't lie'. I feel as if he is saying this to be defensive, he says it when he thinks I am suspecting him of lying - even when I truly am not. I had reached the point where I felt like he was the child who says 'I didn't eat the chocolate mummy' and in the process has in fact dobbed himself in. (Funny how kids do that!) I discovered last night he has had in fact lied to aother person and we are both quite stunned at the discovery. Maybe we both wanted to believe his assertions and reassurances that he doesn't lie...but now my worst fears are in fact the truth - he whos says 'I don't lie loudest' (defensivly and regularly) is in total denial of his deceptive behviour. i was suspicious of his constant 'i don't lie'....if someone says this in their defense (even when they do not need to defend themselves) regularly is it a sign that they are good at deception/lie to themselves even? WDYT? Can you write more of this book about deception? Would be interesting :)
SeaSpray said…
I also want to say that I personally don't think looks are the way to pick a mate. Sure that's icing on the cake but looks can change and you want a mate with substance, intelligent, sense of humor, loyal and much more.

I brought appearance up because of the previous comment regarding the various ways we deceive people with how we change what we really look like with make-up, etc. actually I prefer to think that we enhance what we already have. :)

Enuff-I think your instincts already gave you the answer before you had the proof. Someone told me once that we should always pay attention to those feelings -instincts we get about a situation or person.

This is off track but in that particular conversation we were talking about getting a bad vibe or possibly sense that there was danger connected with a person or situation. If anyone ever has that sense they should get out.
Anonymous said…
SeaSpray-what do ya mean by 'substance '? Do You mean
wealth ?... Ok , so you want a mate with wealth that you want to attract by embellishing your attractiveness , which is what he desires . But , It sounds like theres a double standard being applied here cuz the man is usually just embellishing his wealth to acquire what he wants which is your attractiveness. All is fair in luv and war ya know .
ya gotta' use what ya got' as i once read from a very wise woman !
Disclaimer : please note that I very well may not actually believe anything that I write , Its just that I luv to argue .
therapydoc said…
Keep it going, friends. I'll be back in on the conversation any day now :)
SeaSpray said…
Oh no anonymous...NOT at all! I mean money makes things nice and I wouldn't refuse it but money can't guarantee happiness, the things that really count.

No...I mean good character...a down to earth, compassionate person. A man who is capable of giving and receiving love. A man who doesn't expect perfection in you and accepts you quirks and all. And I am that kind of woman. I think I know what really matters in life and in a mate. Do I do everything right? No. But I AM a work in progress...who btw appreciates being girly and wearing make-up, etc.

A mans character, sense of humor and how he treats me and others is what is important.

And also...having spirituality is key. For me that is the Judeo-Christian ethic. I have some friends that are agnostic/atheists and I love them but it is important for the person closest to me to share a belief in God with.

Would I want an irresponsible guy who rarely works and doesn't care about providing for his family? No. but he doesn't have to be rich.

We had a discussion in the ER one night about whether or not we women would marry and have sex with a really unappealing guy if we were guaranteed his money in return. One nurse said absolutely and I said absolutely not! I don't remember the other answers. I would feel like I was prostituting myself. There are some things money just can't buy. The only way I would do it would be if it meant I would be saving the life of someone I love.
Anonymous said…
People have lied to me and I have used deception too. I don't want to get too upset when somebody lies to me for deception is always committed for some valid personal reason.

People are more likely to lie to me when I'm too critical and exacting to them, or when I'm being insensitive. Interestingly, sometimes I prefer to put up with the possibility being lied to rather than become more understanding to others.

As for love relationships, in the cases when I chose to end them, it wasn't because of a particular lie, as for the overall loss of intimacy between us.

By the way, I remember a game we used to play as kids - the objective was to get away with the biggest possible lie without anyone noticing :)
You don't have to be Jewish to need therapy.

But it helps.
therapydoc said…
So much to say here, little time right now. Except that taste is definitely subjective, there's no understanding it, and generalizations are how our minds deceive us into thinking our truth is THE truth, which is limiting and slows us down and makes us less interesting and less popular and needlessly socially phobic. (And about steroids, let's not even go there, suffice it to say, DON'T, they won't help your personality, probably, which is what is really attractive or not about a person and is something we all can improve on without any steroids, or make-up or plastic surgery or certainly, drugs, and let's include alcohol in that mix).
therapydoc said…
Vlad, I love your website, btw. I wonder if that game made you more sensitive to intimacy, since the process of making up lies and knowing you're making them up, makes you aware that they distance and anger people. I don't know, but I think the childhood history stuff is key.
therapydoc said…
Enuff, Right, I think it's a case of Thou doth' protest too much, Shakespeare, meaning the protest, the I don't lie, says more than the words. Right, there's at least one book on this. So much to say, but I need a nap.
Anonymous said…
I think the entire internet is taking a nap today ? there is nothing interesting going on anywhere .
Hopefully it be resurrected tommorow?
Anonymous said…
what do i have to do to attach a name with my anonimity ? I thought i did that right , maybe I was censored for being overly serious or something?
I hate when other ppl merge their thoughts with mine by having the same anonomousnessity.
But other than that , i'm wondering if you've done or will do a post on
whether or not their is a conflict between the philosophies of "living in the moment ' and achieving a 'higher consciousness'. What are your thoughts on this ?
Anonymous said…
I think you can choose the button that says Name/URL, then choose a name, whomever you want to be, the choices are endless.

I just tried this as Joe Shmo and it seems to have worked. You don't need to fill in a URL.

Help me by defining higher consciousness. Thanks. No idea if or when, btw.
Anonymous said…
well, jo- I tried what you said , but , again, it didnt work .
I guess i was censored, ie ,
That sure makes communicating difficult.
Anonymous said…
defining higher consciousness?
I would think that for someone to be in a "higher state of consciousness' , they would simply have to have more insight regarding a thing, concept ,idea, whatever , than they previously did .
Anonymous said…
ok ,Joe Shmo, I'll try again anonomously . Maybe I'm just not allowed to have a name ?

It just seems to me that Surviving' "living in the moment' as a 'way of life ' can only really be done if one has reached a sufficient level of practical survival enhancing consciousness, or if one decides to forgo that,risk the fates of ignorance, and just behaves as an instinctual creature without care for higher consciousness .
I guess my problem is with the notion that anybody can do both at any time , thats its just a matter of will.

People who perpetually live in a moment of self-consciousness seem to tend to get squashed by the things ,people, dynamics that are outside of their moment, things that are conscious of them ! They are like the baitfish swimming blissfully along with the school that at any second get eaten by the shark cuz they, the baitfish, were focused on their moment(that little bit of plankton they wished to eat) and the shark was focused on his moment of eating his other-wise focused prey .

I suppose you could look at the problem as having a higher consciousness
of "the moment '? Being more
alert ?
I dont think that is what we want in our moment, we want to be free of concern .

But , It seems to me that seeking real 'higher consciousness' requires sacrificing many of ones moments to that goal and that , contrary to popular opinion, the 2 conflict .

It seems as if those who proclaim to achieve the simultaneous pratice of these 2 states of mind , actually just form for themselves a perception of reality that is condusive to the illusion , but in fact , they are still baitfish.

Seems like maybe living in a perpetual moment of being human baitfish , or being 'alert but confused' , are really our only options ?
I guess there are degrees of ignorance and or consciousness involved though .
Are you confused now , you should be ?
therapydoc said…
No, but at least the post is done. Whew!
Anonymous said…
was it too long ?
therapydoc said…
No, no, not too long. I'm working, is all.
Anonymous said…
Am i distracting you ? I'm sorry , i'm just very very very very very bored , is all.
I understand that it is very important to be able to focus "in the moment ' sometimes , sometimes that is what keeps you from screwing up what your doing .
But you are highly trained , so this shouldnt be a problem for
you . Myself , i cant find a single thing worth focusing on today , except for a late lunch , cuz , I missed lunch .
I'm thinking - hot dogs and french fries ? What are you working on ?
therapydoc said…
I see patients six days a week, that's one of my jobs, and when I'm at work, try to read and respond to comments, although I should be billing or calling people back or making lesson plans for the class I teach :)

Anonymous said…
Ok- sometimes even the most intelligent ppl need a simpler perspective , and this is one of those times i think , cuz , its obvious that YOU are working too much .

You need a new work strategy ,cuz spending your time talking to ppl like me IS NOT productive and pays NOTHING . Im thinking that ,probably , you need better paying clients , so that you can afford to work less.

Im thinking that you dont have adequate secretarial help maybe , and so , here is my advice . Go to the nearest HOOTERS , steal 2 of the bustiest waitresses , have them stand outside your office dancing by the street(like the Little caesars workers do) with a sign that says 'CEO SPECIAL OFFER ' GET THERAPY NOW BEFORE THE DEPRESSION BEGINS , BE PREPARED FOR THE NEW BLACK FRIDAY , DONT JUMP , THERAPY DOC CAN SAVE YOU !

I would offer a free car wash with the purchase of 5 sessions , and somehow manage to include the word MASSAGE on the sign .
Do this and you will be rolling in dough and liesure-time in no
time . Now , how do I send you my bill for this occupational
therapy ?
therapydoc said…
It doesn't matter how you send it, dear. You've figured out how easy it is to get paid, right?

thanks for the chuckle
brad4d said…
Therapy is an attitude of observation.
Being the first-born of two social workers (my dad's Masters was on emotionally disturbed children), my traumas were few and far between. The deception of Santa is spared from my Jewish friends, so how fantasy is fun can be questionable.
I went to the "Radical Honesty" seminar with Brad Blanton who said the right friendships could better than therapy.
therapydoc said…
No doubt. Sharing from both teams. Let's do lunch? Can't do that with your therapist, and face it, what would you rather do?
Thanks, Brad.
Anonymous said…
Friendship Shmendship . Do people really still do that? I dont see
it . I'm rurally isolated and all I see people-wise are weary wage-slaves, hermits , hustlers , and xenopobhic tv captives, all of the loner variety.

Friendship must be an urban or class luxury sort of thing . Seems like most people dont even like themselves , and 'other people' are like dangerous alien creatures from the twilight zone .

I havent had a substantive , non-professional , non-internet conversation with another person in many months , maybe years and
I dont see any way to socialise except for going to church or frequenting a redneck bar . Theocracy , mediocracy , or lonliness?
Guess i'll just be lonesome !
therapydoc said…
No, no, no, no, no.

And no.

We'll have to discuss this.
Mark said…
Ahh, very interesting! To lie is to succumb to a fear, for if we have nothing to fear, we have no reason to lie. This is a simple, yet powerful thought. THanks for writing this.
come running said…
I married a man who is so good at lying that he believes them himself. I think because of his own belief in his "truths" it is much easier for people around him to believe them also. These people include judges, therapists (at least 3), lawyers, and law guardians, but his own son sees through him, thank G-d for that.

btw-the ex is an addict and a master of manipulation which could also explain why the above people believe him.

I so appreciate this post and will most definitely use it when I date. I don't want to make the same mistake.
therapydoc said…
Oh, thanks. You bring up a relationship between addiction and deception that if we haven't talked about, should.

You have to lie to use illicit drugs, of course.
Anonymous said…
Why do you have to lie to use illicit drugs ?
ADDICT TO DRUG DEALER ; "sell me drugs please".
Drug dealer obliges addict - addict takes drugs .
Where is the lie ?
therapydoc said…
The lie is, I'm straight/honest (it's a crime, using illicit drugs) to the boss, the wife, the kids, the parents, when in reality, I'm stoned.
Anonymous said…
Isnt all human behavior aimed at fullfilling an unfullfilled need ? What does the addict need ?

Why assume that the person using drugs isnt straight , isnt
honest ? Why assume that doing something that is against the law is bad ?

Does one have to intend to get stoned to be using drugs ?
I think many ppl become addicted to drugs in their attempts to self medicate . I can understand this cuz i have no access to competant medical assistance of any kind , and neither do most of the ppl i know .

From what i read , its suggested that 40% of americans must (for lack of Insurance and financial resources) self medicate or abstain from from being medicated .

Making self medicating a bad thing is societies' management classes' way of telling the lower class that "we the upper classes arent gonna help you , and furthermore , trying to help yourself is gonna land you in one of our big beautiful prisons ".

Of course , 'addiction on a personal level' is bad , but our collective social depravaties which create an environment condusive to rampant addictions is a far worse problem .

Seems like the real tragedy is that reality is sooo bad that many people would rather not deal with it , would rather be stoned .
Personally, I'm with huey lewis , I want a new drug , one that dont make me sick , one that dont make my face break out , one that wont make me go broke ..... or something like that .. Soma maybe ?
And how are ya this fine spring morning ?
Anonymous said…
Isnt all human behavior aimed at fullfilling an unfullfilled need ? What does the addict need ?
Why assume that the person using drugs isnt straight , isnt
honest ? Why assume that doing something that is against the law is bad ?

Does one have to intend to get stoned to be using drugs ? I think many ppl become addicted to drugs in their attempts to self
medicate . I can understand this cuz i have no access to competant medical assistance of any kind , and neither do most of the ppl i know .

From what i read , its suggested that 40% of americans must (for lack of Insurance and financial resources) self medicate or abstain from from being medicated .

Making self medication a bad thing is societies' management classes' way of telling the lower class that "we the upper classes arent gonna help you , and furthermore , trying to help yourself is gonna land you in one of our big beautiful
prisons ".

Of course , 'addiction on a personal level' is bad , but our collective social depravaties which create an environment condusive to rampant addictions is a far worse problem .

Seems like the real tragedy is that reality is sooo bad that many people would rather not deal with it , would rather be stoned .

Personally, I'm with huey lewis , I want a new drug , one that dont make me sick , one that dont make my face break out , one that wont make me go broke ..... or something like that .. Soma maybe ?
And how are ya this fine spring morning ?
therapydoc said…
Shoulder hurts. I'm icing it, thanks.
Anonymous said…
Isnt ice what created your pain ?
Well, I hope you start feeling better. cuz, it seems like you might be getting cranky , and irritable , a little bit .
therapydoc said…
HA! You read the next post!
Anonymous said…
Well, no , i hadnt read it , but i just did and I have had to change my diagnosis. You are now beyond ,cranky irritability. You have got the
Cheer up ! And dont read the rest of that book.
therapydoc said…
Nah, I'm fine, thanks, but am going to have to work now :)
Anonymous said…
Oy vey.

Anyone got a cigarette?


(No, I don't smoke)
SS said…
Don't know if you'll read this comment, but, what if you're the liar? And you are afraid and you know it - afraid of rejection and disintegration of self and relationships and yes, emotional abuse? How do you become "honest"? Especially if it's probably THE MOST complained about issue in your marriage?
therapydoc said…
Thank you so much. You're The Liar has to be my next post. Gimme time to think about it. I think it's about you busting you.
The very best (worst?) liars (addicts among them, of course) believe their own lies, and can very convincingly tell you that they learned their lesson and describe how they worked things out in their lives with increasing honesty since.

I don't think it's possible to recognize deception in another if one hasn't done the necessary work on oneself.
Anonymous said…

You suggest that use of make-up by women equates to a lie/deception". But there are women who do not use make-up at all, thus, noone is forcing you to gravitate towards those who do? Which makes me wonder, why does it bother you so much ? If you don't like "made-up" women - great, it's your preference. Someone else enjoys it. There are roughly 8 billion people in the world, there is someone for everyone.
You complain that in your rural area, there are no people intelligent and sophisticated enough (or -whatever-enough) to be granted the honor of your friendship. Okay. Why don't you move to an urban area and join Mensa? Do research at MIT ? Lecture at Harvard ?
The opportunities are endless, especially for someone like you.
Or could it be that you prefer to constantly complain about everyone's inferiority, which is so far behind your development?

Is the real goal - to assert your self-perceived superiority?

What are your thoughts on Narcissisistic Personlity Disorder, by the way?
Anonymous said…
uh,makeup=lie/deception =OK , so whut !
uh- i didnt say anyone was forcing me to do nuttin, duh.

makeup doesnt bother me at all but, in fact , i think that its good ,sorta' that people with such insecurity show 'that' by wearing the makeup, this way it is less difficult to understand that persons insecurities. And also , of course there could be circumstances where the application of some deception is reasonable .

why would anyone enjoy makeup? it doesnt taste smell or feel like a womans real self . give me your address and I'll make you a lipstick flavored lollipop. You want waxxy , chalky , or oily flavored? Also, I cant help but think that using makeup as a habit could have sort of a reinforcing effect re; those insecurities that encouraged the makeup to start with . Also The money spent on makeup could feed countless third world children .
Also , do they still use animals for testing all the toxic makeups .
I know , I'm being narcissistic again huh!

I dont think i said that there werent acceptable persons , its that there really arent very many persons whatsoever , and those that there are are like me , they are slaves and after slaving away all day virtually every day , theres little time or energy for socialising .

as for moving to urbanity , how dare you wish such a thing upon another human .

MIT? Harvard ?- will they accept a homemade GED ?
asserting my self percieved superiority ? yes , thats exactly not it !

I think narcissism is ugly . Assumptuousness and simplicty is ugly too, I think!

thanks for your concern though.

Popular Posts